Premier League Review – Gameweek 29

Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 2 Arsenal

Ten man Arsenal fought back to secure a point in one of the most important North London Derbies in memory when they visited Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs could have gone top of the Premier League with a win at White Hart Lane, but an audacious flick from Aaron Ramsey five minutes before the break threw a spanner in the works. Francis Coquelin gifted Spurs the opportunity to fight back by getting sent off after half-time, a chance which Spurs duly took. Toby Alderweireld netted the equaliser before excellent work by Dele Alli set up Harry Kane to score a sensational curling effort from a tight angle. Two goals in the space of two minutes put Spurs in the driving seat. Arsenal didn’t give up though, with Alexis Sanchez putting Arsenal level 15 minutes later amid a flurry of excellent saves from David Ospina.

This will undoubtedly feel like a missed opportunity for Spurs, who remain 2nd in the table but slip five points adrift of Leicester. But you can’t deny the level of determination shown by the so-called soft touches Arsenal. They fought to remain in the game and fully deserved a point. However, they are now eight points off the leaders and only two ahead of Manchester City.

Chelsea 1 – 1 Stoke

Chelsea failed to get the three points from Stoke thanks to a late equalising goal from the visitors in what proved to be a largely cagey affair.

Chelsea were without the injured Diego Costa, with Bertrand Traore stepping into his large shoes to fill the void in the central striker role. He responded to the pressure the way any good striker should, by firing home the opener from 20 yards for his 4th goal in five matches. There wasn’t much else of quality shining through the game, with a deserved equaliser coming in the 85th minute when Mame Biram Diouf headed in after Thibaut Courtois botched a punch-out.

Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in the Premier League since taking over, and Chelsea sit in 10th position with ten points separating them from the Champions League places. Stoke are three points better off than the champions in 8th.

Manchester City 4 – 0 Aston Villa

Manchester City put in a thrilling second half performance to compile Aston Villa’s misery and put them a step closer to Championship football.

Manchester City came into this match having lost three straight Premier League games and in desperate need of something to revive their title hopes. The first half didn’t bring any of this revival, with a drab 45 minutes ending goalless. Manuel Pellegrini’s half time team talk must have been good though. It took just three minutes for Yaya Toure to open the scoring and then another two minutes for Sergio Aguero to double their advantage. Ten minutes later Aguero added a second for himself and Raheem Sterling made it 4-0 in the 66th minute. Aguero denied himself the opportunity to bag a hat trick by missing a penalty, but the damage was well done for Aston Villa by then.

Manchester City remain ten points off league leaders Leicester, but still have a game in hand. They managed close the gap on Spurs and Arsenal after their earlier draw though. Aston Villa slump further into relegation trouble, and are now nine points adrift of safety.

Everton 2 – 3 West Ham

West Ham punished ten man Everton by coming from two goals behind to win the match in the most thrilling tie of the weekend.

Romelu Lukaku continued his excellent record against West Ham by netting a 13th minute opener with an excellent finish, but Kevin Mirallas picked up two yellow cards before half time to put the hosts in jeopardy. Aaron Lennon defied the odds ten minutes after half time by putting Everton two goals to the good as Roberto Martinez urged his side to continue attacking. Lukaku then saw a weak penalty saved, a mistake which turned out to be disastrous for the Toffees. Michail Antonio scored a header 12 minutes from time, with Diafra Sakho equalising with another header three minutes later. Dimitri Payet was first to the ball in the 90th minute as he fired in a winner for the euphoric visiting support.

This win has propelled West Ham up to 5th in the table as Manchester United lost their match on Sunday, and they are only one point off the top four. Everton are down in 12th with 38 points from their opening 28 matches.

Southampton 1 – 1 Sunderland

An injury time equaliser for the ten man Southampton saw them deny the struggling Sunderland the opportunity to distance themselves from the Premier League relegation zone.

For 75 minutes this came was scrappy and dull, with next to nothing of quality happening in the final third of either end of the pitch. However, Jose Fonte’s red card in the 79th minute opened the door for a flurry of action. The defender was dismissed after dragging down Fabio Borini when he was through on goal, and six minutes later substitute Jermain Defoe put the visitors ahead after Lamina Kone’s good work. Sunderland packed the defence after this, but left Virgil van Dijk in enough space to fire in a 93rd minute equaliser.

This opens up a one point gap between Sunderland and the relegation zone, and their improved performances of late will be providing them with some confidence in their ability to stay in the Premier League. Southampton drop to 9th in the table.

Swansea 1 – 0 Norwich

Swansea boosted their chances of Premier League survival enormously with a win over the much less confident Norwich.

You can understand why both of these teams are fighting against relegation by watching the highlights of this match, which would be very short indeed. The match was very cagey and of a low quality throughout, and the only real talking point was Gylfi Sigurdsson’s tidy finish in the 61st minute to settle the game. Nathan Redmond fired wide late on as Norwich went on a half-hearted attempt to equalise, but that was about it.

Swansea move nine points clear of the relegation zone with this win, and if they can keep picking up the odd win they should be safe come May. Norwich fall to a point from safety following Sunderland’s draw with Southampton.

Newcastle 1 – 3 Bournemouth

Bournemouth boosted their chances of Premier League survival dramatically with a win over a Newcastle side who look resigned to second tier football next season.

Newcastle’s season was summed up in an instant in the 28th minute when Steven Taylor sliced a cross into his own net to give the visitors a lead. The hosts didn’t improve after conceding, with their lack of effort and quality leading to a chorus of boos around St James Park from a hostile home crowd. Joshua King hammered home a second to make it 2-0 20 minutes from time, with Ayoze Perez offering a glimmer of hope for the Toon ten minutes later. Charlie Daniels settled the game in injury time though.

Newcastle remain in the relegation zone and are now a point behind their north eastern rivals in 17th. Bournemouth move 11 points clear of the drop zone and will be very confident of securing safety.

Watford 0 – 1 Leicester

Leicester moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a title winning performance over Watford in Saturday’s late kick off.

With Spurs and Arsenal drawing earlier in the day Leicester knew that a win at Watford would move them five points clear of their nearest competitors. Leicester started the game with purpose, and nearly went ahead as Riyad Mahrez fed the ball to Jamie Vardy, who put it narrowly wide. It took until ten minutes after half-time for the deadlock to be broken though, with the sensational Mahrez twisting the Watford defenders before rifling a short into the near corner from the edge of the area. This was the sort of results that title winners need to go for them, and once again it all went right for the leaders.

This moved Leicester five points clear of 2nd placed Spurs, and they are now just nine games away from a truly historic Premier League triumph. Watford remain in a relatively comfortable position in their first season back in the top flight.

Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool

Ten man Liverpool fought back from a goal behind to claim an injury time winner against the struggling Crystal Palace.

The first half was largely uneventful, but three minutes after half time Joe Ledley put the hosts in front. James Milner then further exacerbated Liverpool’s problems by picking up a second yellow card with half an hour left to play. This didn’t deter the visitors though, and Alex McCarthy gifted Roberto Firmino an equalising goal with an ill timed slip. Christian Benteke then won and converted a winning penalty in the 96th minute to give Jurgen Klopp and company a rewarding three points.

This leaves Crystal Palace 12 games without a win in the Premier League, and they are now down in 15th position with nine points between them and the drop zone. Liverpool move up to 7th, and they are only three points behind arch rivals Manchester United.

West Brom 1 – 0 Manchester United

West Brom won against Manchester United at the Hawthorns for the first time in over three decades thanks to a Juan Mata red card and a Salomon Rondon goal.

Manchester United dominated early proceedings at the Hawthorns, but two silly mistakes from the normally cool headed Juan Mata saw the entire game shift. He picked up a yellow card for blocking a quick free kick, before adding a second and getting a very early bath when he clipped ex-Manchester United man Darren Fletcher. 65 minutes is a long time to play with ten men, and 66 minutes into the game Salomon Rondon took advantage. The striker converted an excellent ball in from Sebastian Pocognoli to put the Baggies ahead, and the visitors never really threatened to get back on level terms.

This moves Manchester United down to 6th in the table, with wins for West Ham and Manchester City putting them further adrift of the top four. West Brom move up to a respectable 11th position.

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